It is never easy to fire an employee, but if you are in this position there are a few pointers that, if followed, will minimize potential claims against your company.

  1. You don’t have to give a reason since Colorado is an “at-will” state, but it’s a good idea to have a good reason before firing;
  2. Don’t give a laundry list of reasons during the termination;
  3. Make sure you’ve documented the events that occur that lead to the termination;
  4. Have at least one witness, if possible, present during the actual firing;
  5. Develop a script to following during the termination – kept it short;
  6. Do not argue, apologize or make promises during the termination;
  7. Take steps to protect sensitive data and computer access before termination;
  8. Deliver your message to remaining employees quickly after termination;
  9. Consult with legal counsel before giving severance;
  10. Consider whether employee will go to work for competitors, solicit your clients, etc. before the termination and devise a plan.  If the employee has an employment agreement, review the relevant non-compete provisions.

These 10 steps don’t mean that an upset ex-employee won’t file suit or challenge the termination but they will go a long ways towards putting you and your company in a strong position to defend against such claims.  This is one time when the old adage, “an ounce of prevention…” holds true. If in doubt, consult with our HR professionals and attorneys BEFORE you fire, not after.

If you would like more information regarding your company’s employment issues, please contact our Business Law Group partner, David A. Closson at [email protected].